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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IDEALS    OF    LIFE

national disorder, as during the change of dynasties, a great
number of scholars shaved their heads and took monastic orders,
as much for personal protection as out of feeling for the helpless
chaos of the world.

There is justification enough in a chaotic country for the
popularity of a religion which declares the vanity of the world
and offers a refuge from the pains and vicissitudes of this
earthly life. We have to-day an extant copy of the life of Lu
Licbing by his daughter. Lu Liching, at the end of the Ming
Dynasty and the beginning of the Manchu Dynasty, disappeared
from the world in his old age, and after long years of separa-
tion from his wife and children, once entered the city of
Hangchow to cure the sickness of his brother, but refused to
see his own family living next door. What disillusionment a
man must have perceived of the phenomena of this life to do
such a thing!

And yet it is not impossible to understand it after reading
his daughter's Life. The depth of disillusionment was equal
only to the depth of his personal sufferings. Accused of having
a hand in the publication of a work by another author, which
was considered disrespectful to the new Manchu regime, this
man, after bidding farewell to his ancestors in a sacrificial
prayer, started out with his whole family to Peking, in chains
and under guard, with the constant expectation that his wife
and children and close relatives would be slaughtered whole-
sale. He had said in his prayer that if he came back alive he
would become a monk, and he did. In this sense Buddhism
was an unconscious gesture of man in his battle with life, a
form of revenge somewhat similar in psychology to suicide,
when life proved too cruelly superior. Many beautiful and
talented girls at the end of the Ming Dynasty took the monastic
vow through disappointment in love caused by those catas-
trophic changes, and the first emperor of the Manchu Dynasty
became a monk for the same reason*

But apart from this negative protest against life, there is an
aspect of Buddhism which has an evangelical influence on the
common people, and works for general kindness. The most
vivid and direct influence it exercises over the people is through
its doctrine of transmigration. Buddhism has not taught the